- Governor Kristi Noem has been talking regularly on Fox News, promoting South Dakota's freedoms, and is currently traveling around the upper Midwest to campaign for Trump. (Fox News)
- She has also been spending CARES money on ads around the country urging people to move to South Dakota, where "we respect your freedoms" and "We're open for business!" (AP News)
- We hosted the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in August, where 460,000+ bikers came to a town of 7,000 and held one hell of a week-long party. The national COVID-19 repercussions are debated (Politifact) but I can tell you it's a fact that Meade County (Sturgis) went from 71 cases before Sturgis to 487 and counting (that's 1 out of every 14), and most of the other West River counties show large spikes as well. (Pennington County - Rapid City, etc. - went from 942 cases to 2,091.)
- We hosted the Sanford International golf tournament in Sioux Falls September 7-13th, which was the first golf tournament to allow spectators, and we can hardly WAIT until the COVID-19 figures come out from that. (Argus Leader)
- As a result of all this stuff, South Dakota is in the top ten, and may still be the #1 hotspot for COVID-19 in the country for a couple of weeks now, thanks to a 10%+ positivity rate. A popular response to Gov. Noem's "We're open for business!" ad slogan is, "And we're wide open for COVID!" (Argus Leader) (NYTimes)
- And, most recently, our Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg drove home from a GOP political event in Redfield, SD, and hit and killed a man walking along the shoulder of Highway 14, just west of Highmore, SD around 10:30 PM on Saturday, September 12th. (NYTimes)
From the beginning, AG Ravnsborg has said that he thought he hit a deer. This has been met with considerable skepticism and some derision here in the Mount Rushmore State, because everybody in SD has either missed or hit a deer at some point in their driving lives. When we first moved up here, we asked why collision insurance was so expensive and mandatory - since we do have a low population / population density - and were told it was because of the deer. We have a lot of deer.
And to be purely informative, I must tell you that humans do not look like deer. For one thing, we have fewer legs. We also wear clothing, walk upright, and have arms that flail a lot as we soar through the air.
Despite an on-going investigation, shrouded in secrecy for almost two weeks now, AG Ravnsborg put out a two-page statement (via his campaign office, on his official Attorney General letterhead, two days after the accident) about what happened. Since my fellow blogger Cory Heidelberger has posted, analyzed and summarized this and other aspects of the case, please check out his blog HERE. The following quotes, etc., are from Cory:
Interesting... Very interesting... But coming from the state that has given us two big juicy scandals (EB-5 and GearUp!), well, anything's possible.
Ravnsborg apparently views “ongoing investigation” as a conditional excuse for silence: he refuses to answer questions from the media out of “respect” for the “process” and a his desire to let investigators do their work “without any interference or appearance of impropriety on my part.” Yet he feels arguing his case in public, without cross-examination, does not interfere with the investigation at all.
Ravnsborg says he had drunk no alcohol Saturday night.
Ravnsborg fudges his story a bit, saying now that he initially thought the man he hit was “a large animal (likely a deer)”.
Note also the grammatical distancing: Ravnsborg says, “My vehicle struck something….” Making the subject of that sentence “my vehicle” instead of “I” is like saying “My firearm shot something” or “My pen wrote something.”
Ravnsborg says he stopped, called 9-1-1 immediately, and investigated the scene with Hyde County Sheriff Mike Volek. He and the sheriff saw no sign of the large animal they were looking for.
Ravnsborg reports his car was too damaged to drive safely. That level of damage suggests Ravnsborg was moving at a pretty good clip coming out of Highmore.
Ravnsborg says Sheriff Volek, who lives near the accident site, loaned him his personal vehicle to go back to Pierre. Ravnsborg brought the car back in the morning with his chief of staff and spokesman, Tim Bormann, to drive him back.
Ravnsborg says he and Bormann stopped at the accident site on the way to Sheriff Volek’s house. The debris from Ravnsborg’s car was still on the road. Ravnsborg and Bormann walked the shoulder and “discovered the body of Mr. Boever in the grass just off the roadway. My chief of staff and I checked and it was apparent that Mr. Boever was deceased.”
“Just off the roadway”—that’s a key detail. The victim was not thrown far away from the road into the beanfield. The grass in the ditch was not high: Boever had hit a hay bale in that ditch with his truck earlier Saturday; a KSFY photo also shows a bale in the ditch, indicating the ditch had been recently mowed. The body does not seem to have been hidden by vegetation.
Ravnsborg drove to Sheriff Volek’s house immediately to tell him they’d found a dead man. The Sheriff came back to the site with Ravnsborg and asked him to go back to Pierre.
An investigation suddenly graduates from car-deer accident to human fatality, and the sheriff on the scene tells the suspect apparently responsible for the death to leave the county?
Meanwhile, KELO-TV has a photo of the car Ravnsborg was driving (Kelo-TV). The windshield is almost gone on the passenger side.
My response: Why Boever took a walk is totally irrelevant. The last I heard, this is South Dakota, in the United States of America, and each and every one of us have the right to take a walk whenever and wherever we want as long as we're not trespassing. Unlit, rural highways are a really excellent place to see the stars, for one thing. For another, he might well have wanted to get something he forgot out of his truck. And finally, his mental condition, history of alcoholism, or anything else is irrelevant. He was the victim, not the driver. It is the driver's responsibility to explain why he hit and killed a human being. QUIT BLAMING THE VICTIM. Someday it might be your cousin lying by the side of a road, dead, while someone else says, "well, what were they wearing?"
At the time the brakes were applied (clearly visible due to tire skid marks) the right hand tires of the car were well onto the shoulder of the road. This stretch of US14 has wide paved shoulders with rumble strips at the white line.
I stepped off the tire skid marks and they went on for over 200 feet before there were two parallel blood skid marks on the paved shoulder. This first blood marks were about 6″ wide and 6′-8′ long.
There was then a skip for about 20 feet before a wider blood skid mark closer to the edge of the shoulder that was about 1′ wide and 20′ long. There was then another skip of about 20′ until a dried pool of blood in the grass on the edge of the road.
The pool of blood was 2′ from the edge of the pavement (I measured with a tape measure) the grass here had been mowed late this summer and had regrown to 8″ tall (I measured it). This was the very edge of the grass and the ground was nearly level with the shoulder of the road at this point, the ditch slope had not really begun yet. Black flies were buzzing in the air just above the blood pool.
As I stood there a flatbed truck drove by carrying a red Ford Taurus with a huge hole in the passenger side of the windshield. The truck turned into the SD DOT yard near the speed limit sign and drove into the shop and the overhead door quickly closed. Highway patrolmen and other authority figures immediately surrounded my vehicle as I drove up to the building and parked. I requested permission to photograph the windshield of the vehicle and was denied...
I saw traffic cones marking stuff and new paint marks of a different color on the road. I don’t know how long the road was reduced to one lane but a friend told my brother Victor that FBI agents were seen on the scene later that afternoon.”